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‘It’s ruined my life’ - woman tells of devastating impact of sedative over-prescription

PUBLISHED: 12:38 15 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:38 15 September 2020

Caroline Clancy was overprescribed lorazepam by a doctor and was told it would take her 48 years to fully come off the drug. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Caroline Clancy was overprescribed lorazepam by a doctor and was told it would take her 48 years to fully come off the drug. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Archant

“It’s ruined my life.”

Caroline Clancy was overprescribed lorazepam by a doctor and was told it would take her 48 years to fully come off the drug. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANCaroline Clancy was overprescribed lorazepam by a doctor and was told it would take her 48 years to fully come off the drug. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

A Norwich woman has spoken out about the “absolutely horrendous” experience of being prescribed excessive sedatives, which she said left her with side effects and “destroyed” her family life.

Caroline Clancy, 54, was first prescribed lorazepam - a type of benzodiazepine, or sedative drug - in 2002 due to suffering with chronic pain and fibromyalgia, as well as anxiety.

But after a repeat prescription was issued in 2013, Miss Clancy’s dosage was doubled by her doctor - without explanation - so she continued to take the pills for several years.

She said: “I was asleep most of the day and night.

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“I have no memories of the time in which I was taking 20mg daily.”

A letter from the GP who prescribed the pills states that Miss Clancy was taking 16mg a day.

The NHS says a typical dose is between 1-4mg daily for anxiety.

The error was discovered in 2017 by another GP at Miss Clancy’s clinic and she began to be tapered off the drugs.

She said: “I was told I was a prescribed drug addict.

“I was utterly shocked. I have never taken illegal drugs and do not drink alcohol.

“It’s ruined my life. My rate of withdrawals means I will be lorazepam free in 48 years and eight months. I’m 54 - I will be dead by the time I’m 102 years.”

Miss Clancy, who has two children, said the experience has left her experiencing thoughts of suicide.

She added: “It’s absolutely horrendous.

“I can no longer see a future that holds any hope whatsoever.”

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A letter from Miss Clancy’s GP, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), sent in 2017 in response to her complaint about the situation, stated: “I can only think that I made an error when I issued your prescription that day... I sincerely apologise.”

The doctor, who we are not naming, added: “I am afraid I can see no explanation as to why I would have made this change.”

The letter stated that Miss Clancy’s concerns had been “thoroughly investigated by the surgery” and the error which led to her overprescription had been “discussed as a significant event”.

And it added that all the practice’s GPs would complete further training on the use of benzodiazepines and an audit into Miss Clancy’s medications would be carried out, as well as a wider audit into benzodiazepine prescriptions at the surgery.

And Miss Clancy urged the public to be aware of the potential consequences of over-prescription, and said: “Not only is it potentially lethal, it ruins lives and families - like it has mine.

“Prescribing large amounts of highly addictive drugs is utterly appalling. Benzodiazepines addiction is deadly.

“I struggle with the horrific withdrawals and my children are witnesses to my mental and physical decline.

“I think the public has the right to know things can go wrong and the consequences can be dire.

“If one person reads this and questions the medication they’re on, it will help.”

• If you need help, call the free Samaritans helpline on 116 123 from anywhere in the UK, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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